Newsvine: Next Steps

It’s been about a week since we took the first layer of secrecy off of Newsvine, and everybody over here couldn’t be happier at the reaction so far. Without a single dollar spent on PR, marketing, or really any organized effort to get the word out, Newsvine found itself on the front page of CBS News, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, GigaOm, TechCrunch, Russell Beattie, and hundreds of other places. Like David Hasselhoff, we’re even apparently big in Germany.

Is it wrong that I’m not stressed out about all of this? I mean, CEOs of startups are supposed to be working 20 hour days, neglecting their families, and generally being pains in the ass, right? I guess so, but this is fun.

Let me repeat that: This. Is. Fun.

People are excited, and we’re excited about that.


I’ve read probably a few hundred articles, posts, and comments about Newsvine since our announcement and while most have been positive, a couple of things I’ve read several times which seemed to lean towards skepticism a bit are comments like this:

“News with comments? That’s been done.”

“Sounds like Digg, Delicious, and Google News put together.”

To the first comment, I’d say this: When the cheeseburger was invented, there were plenty of people saying the hamburger had already “been done”. I bet cheeseburgers outsell hamburgers now.

To the second comment, I’d say this: Oh my god, if that’s what we have, then I’d say we’re in pretty good shape. I love Digg. I love Delicious. And I love Google News. All they are lacking is each other.


Is there competition in the populist news space? Sure there is. There’s probably competition we don’t even know about. But judging from all the calls and e-mails we’ve gotten from VCs over the last week, it’s not competition for funding or attention… the funding is already there. It’s competition to see who can create the most compelling community of breaking information. And that’s what makes it fun.

Of the small handful of companies looking to make this happen over the next few months and years, I know we’re not the oldest or the biggest. But when I see code like this on three separate companies’ web sites who purport to be in the same space as Newsvine, my inner geek can’t help but smile:

<font face="Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Swiss,SunSans-Regular">




"Please disable your popup blocker for our URL."

So in the off chance I somehow don’t have Arial installed, you’re going alternate all the way down to Swiss? Who has Swiss? And you’re going to use a font tag at all?

Anyway, enough geekspeak.

The fact is that every company entering this space will go in with their own strength. Digg has a great tech community and an impressively upstanding way of running the site. Open Source Media is strong in politics. Inform has 50-some people dedicated to finding and grouping related information. We have our roots in high-traffic news media, blogging, engineering, and design. That influence is hopefully apparent and beneficial in the Newsvine experience. I believe that in the end, several companies will be successful in creating positive news reading and news writing environments. Each will just have its own spin.

Note: The companies above are not necessarily competitors of ours. I am only mentioning them here because others have.

Beta Details

We’re well into the several thousands on the list so far, but I must admit that we plan on only letting a few hundred in for the first couple/few weeks. The reason for this (I swear) is not some sort of manufactured scarcity campaign, but rather the opportunity to take care of some obvious quick fixes and improvements that will only become apparent as people begin using the site.

The single hardest thing about building an ecosystem for participation is trying to predict user experience in the absence of it.

So if you signed up for the beta, the whole team thanks you, and you will definitely get in before everyone else does. But if it’s not in the first wave, just sit tight and your first experience on the site will be better because of it.

43 comments on “Newsvine: Next Steps”. Leave your own?
  1. Peter says:

    Geek speak: just like htttp is not a registered protocol. ;)

  2. Well, you are getting me more and more interested in what you’ve got. As long as it’s usable, easy and pretty (news sites can be pretty, right?), I’m in.. As soon as you get far down into your beta-list.

  3. Bradley says:

    I personally could not believe that people thought up the shallow words, “This is just news with comments.” They are totally missing that you’ve completely captured the rise of consumer journalism.

    Remember in the feature film Frequency where the main character tells his younger friend in the past to remember one word? What was the word? “Yahoo.”

    Mike, when you get the Benz, you’ll have to visit. Add me to the excited list. It’s going to be great.

  4. Dave says:

    Good to see you are enjoying yourself Mike et al – just make sure you work hard and don’t go over the top!

  5. Scrivs says:

    Give me a couple mil and I bet you I wouldn’t be stressed out either and definitely would be having an assload of fun :-P.

  6. Mark says:

    I have to say, I’m a little jealous about all the fun you seem to be having.

    Hopefully post-launch we’ll see more posts on the blog!

    Good luck, can’t wait to see the finished product…

  7. Vince says:

    You’re one ridiculously talented cat, Davidson; the enthusiasm for Newsvine is evident whenever you talk about it. Good for you, brother – and good luck on the new biz!

  8. Brandon Cox says:

    Swiss? like:

    This phrase with font tag? (Didn’t work in the preview. Maybe the designer has the font and insisted (s)he see the site identically to the comp?)

    Excellent points, Mike.

    Some parity arguments I’ve heard over the years….

    1) Why would anyone use a wiki? Britannica already owns that space.

    2) Once Walmart goes online Amazon will be dead.

    3) Who needs another mapping tool? Mapquest won.

    You indeed are in good company.

    Congratulations – looking forward to using it.

  9. Abercrombie says:

    I know everyone’s excited about seeing what’s coming, but we all know that Newsvine is not what that great office complex is for … where are all the pictures of the Newsvine barbeque’s and parties?

  10. eston says:

    You’ve raised a wonderful point here, and you’ve also underscored the very reason why Newsvine is going to succeed: you’re doing things the right way. The thing that you’ve realised is that you and whoever else is working on the project with you is that you (all) have a much better understanding of the design, development, and, most of all, the culture behind the way a “Web 2.0” application works. (I know you don’t want to call Newsvine a Web 2.0 app, but it fits my definition of the term.)

    Any random PHP-hobbyist schmuck can pick up a dusty HTML 3.2 book off of their friends and script their idea into something that works, but it’s a different talent altogether to actually develop an idea into a usable, standards-compliant application that places just as much emphasis on the UX and social infrastructure of the system as it does the web application/design itself. If your opponents are using <font> tags and supposedly have been around for longer than you have with absolutely no press coverage, mainstream or independent, they’re probably doing something horribly wrong.

    In all honesty, most all web application ideas have been done in some form or another to where you will have “competition” – and Newsvine is certainly no different – but just because you’re a newcomer and have this “competition” (which I have in quotes because it’s more a similar-space application than it is true competition) doesn’t mean that you can do the same thing better than they can. Newsvine sounds like a perfect example of that. I’d like to find out firsthand. :)

    And <!– BEGIN UBER TABLE –>? I chuckled. Good show.

  11. Zeerus says:

    This looks great Mike, I can’t wait. As for the skepticism, don’t pay any attention to it. Sure, sites with the same features Newsvine has have come out before, but not all combined together on one platform. You’ll beat em all out, no doubt about it.

    good luck

  12. Elliot Swan says:

    I think your enthusiasm is rubbing off onto me and everybody else…This thing sounds better every time you talk about it.

  13. Evan says:

    You’re KILLING US! We wan’t innnnnnn!

  14. Alex says:

    Really looking forward to this. Congrats on the early positive reaction and good luck on what looks like inevitable success!

  15. Leigh says:

    This is completely off topic, but the CBS News article contains a typo that happens to be my all time pet peeve; “accomodate” is spelt with TWO m’s. Illiteracy in journalism is a tragedy.

  16. Congratulations with the major reaction about Newsvine. I am very excited about it and cannot wait to review it!

    And one thing before I forget. I love reading the news, but a lot of new sites cluster the pages with advertisements. Is Newsvine going to be using advertisements?

    Again, congrats and best of luck. I’m sure your competition is beginning to panic with all the attention you’ve been getting. :P

  17. CC says:

    Regarding your skeptics, I always try to remember that skepticism is a good thing, and this is especially true for a news-minded organization like you’re trying to build. I am encouraged by your response to the feedback you’ve gotten – the fact that you mention people who offered praise in passing, but actually quoted your critics, tells me that you’re interested in disclosure and meeting your critics in an open forum. That’s the sort of behavior we want from a news-related organization. If your product lives up to that and your obvious visual design chops, I think Newsvine will be a great service. I’m looking forward to seeing it.

  18. Mike says:

    This should be hot I am so glad you put it together I cant wait to get an invite one day.Very smart idea !

  19. Steve says:

    It sounds like a great idea, I have been kicking around thoughts of doing something similar to this for a few months now. I hope you let me in to check it out as soon as possible, it would be wonderful if you all are incorporating the things into this that I have been dreaming of the past so many months!
    I look forward to something that puts the power of the people into interactive discussion of serious news, rather than America (and beyond) just consuming what is out into print without any debate.

  20. grey says:

    I just have to quickly say that hamburgers are so much better than cheeseburgers, regardless of which outsells which. Not that I think that’ll translate to newsvine in the way that you were making the comparison… Hamburgers are just better, that’s all, and someone needs to stand up for them.

    (Editor’s Note: Totally agree. :) )


    You’ve been mentioned at Wired too. Along with Digg, and, congrats Mike!

  22. Brad says:

    The bit where you broke down their use of font tags was classic.

    “Who has Swiss?”

    Out of all the blogs I’m subscribed to, your sense of humor is the most appealing. Keep up the great writing, and good luck with Newsvine.

  23. Knut Karnapp says:

    You´re right we´re in Germany really are looking forward to newsvine being launched. Hurry up :)

  24. Dave Metcalf says:

    It sounds like many of the people reponding here have already been beta testing for you. Is that so?
    Are those speculative comparisons to wiki, Amazon and MapQuest?
    I’m very interested to see what you have, which is why I signed up. I’ll have to reserve my judgement, though, until I actually use Newsvine.

    Also, how did you manage to get into the Seattle Post-Intelligencer?

  25. Mike D. says:

    Dave: Nope, nobody’s seen anything yet. With regards to the P-I, news spreads fast when you’re in the same building I guess. :)

  26. Allan R. says:

    If you’d like a piece of advice from a geek end-user, focus on some clear front-page instructions on how to get started with Newsvine…

    I have discarded joining many web applications because they require me to register an account before even telling me what they are about…

    Other than that, I want to start using this thing right away !!!

  27. John says:

    Still looking forward to it with excitement. Have been checking my inbox awaiting a ‘Welcome to the Newsvine BETA’ email, and it’s certainly good to know that those who signed up for updates will get it before the general public.

    I must admit the concept does sound uncannily familiar, but I’m sure you will be able to pull it off and slay the critics with flying colours!

  28. alek says:


    I know of another company where the employees did high-tech stuff … and argueably most importantly, HAD FUN!

    I’d suggest that if your employees are having fun, that is a serious competitive weapon in the marketplace – good luck and looking forward to it – I signed up for your Beta, so maybe I’ll see it sooner rather than later.


    P.S. You may have heard of that other company – their name is Google.

  29. Christian says:

    I know of another company where the employees did high-tech stuff … and arguably most importantly, HAD FUN! You may have heard of that other company – their name is Google.

    I could’ve sworn you were talking about Pixar. And probably some other companies to in addition to Google, the site nobody will stop talking about. I guess it’s fun to say though. But then so is Yahoo.

  30. joeandy says:

    It sounds interesting and I see how everyone is excited. I see a kind of openess in your blog and that is refeshing. I am really looking forward to this. Keep up the good work and the best of luck to you.

  31. a.d. says:

    I guess giving away free ipods really paid off! Now, not only do you have sFIR and XHTML addicts reading your blog, you just captured a whole new group of audience who will publicize Newsvine and anything else you do.

    I think Newsvine will be a definite hit and wish you all the best.
    And to all the other entrepreneurs out there – give away a few free ipods first and generate a few hundred thousand enthusiasts to your site. Nothing beats that!

    (Editor’s Note: I’m not sure how much traffic iPods bring to this site, but whatever it is, it feels fleeting. More of a “passing interest” than actual new subscribers. Every little bit helps though I guess.)

  32. Guido says:

    Dude you should be having fun at this.. finally getting to work without that corporate monkey on your back. Now I guess it’s just the VC phone calls that can strike that same nerve.

    Good luck and I’ll be awaiting the beta …

  33. I think it’s a great idea, Mike. A lot of it has been done before, and people are always going to say “It’s been done before,” but I think they fail to see what it really is. My problem with most news sites is that they’re horribly ugly. They’re full of ads you need to block, and even after you get rid of those the page is cluttered with useless information, but they’re still better than reading the newspaper in my opinion.

    I’ve signed up for the waiting list, myself, and I am really looking forward to this. Like I said before it’s an excellent idea. I’d love it even if it was just a standard news site, but designed and organized effectively. It’s amazing how people lately are taking old things and making them new and exciting again while having fun at it. That’s the way it should be.

    Oh and Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

  34. Jay says:

    One question I don’t think anyone has asked… when do you expect to release? :)

    I don’t expect a full answer, just possibly a “Summer time” or “Next winter” answer – if there is one :)

  35. Mike D. says:

    Jay: Oh no… it won’t be that long. Expect a general release within the next couple of months. It just depends what sorts of issues come up in the beta. If no issues (ha!), then I’d love to release tomorrow!

  36. ak says:

    keep me in mind mike – i can’t wait to see what you guys are up to.

    kind of reminds me of 1995 yahoo days.

  37. b2b resource says:

    Just came across your blog. I can’t wait to see how newsvine does. I’ll be waiting for the wide release. The internet is a huge place and has a wide audience. There is room for everyone.

  38. Reed Morse says:

    Well I suppose I can jump on the bandwagon and tell you how stoked I am. I just hope I get one of them beta invitations.

    This could be amazing.

  39. Karl says:

    I’ve just signed up for your beta. I must admit – I am very, very, very curious. Sounds like you have some terrific ideas.

  40. Fred says:

    Signed up for the beta. Hope to hear back soon. Bunch of news hounds here in the office.

  41. I would like to sign up for a beta.


    from the netherlands.

  42. Joe N. says:

    It looks really nice and good as a good cheeseburger :)

  43. Macropsia says:

    Newsvine: Noticias más inteligentes

    Mike Davidson, conocido por muchos por ser uno de los creadores de sIFR, ha anunciado hace unos días que está trabajando en un nuevo proyecto que, según sus palabras, será como tu sitio favorito de noticias, sólo que más inteligente: Newsvine.

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